Gardner Mountain WSA Location: Johnson County
Nearest Towns: Buffalo (40 miles)
BLM Acreage: 6,423 acres
Recommended for Wilderness: 0 acres
Access Points & Directions:
There is no direct public access to the Gardner Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA). Access is predominately controlled by adjacent private landowners and landowner permission is required to cross any private lands. However, the Gardner Mountain WSA may be legally accessed via the Gardner Mountain Foot and Horse Trail in combination with cross-country travel. The route requires hiking or horseback riding approximately seven miles from the Gardner Mountain Trailhead. A land status map and compass or GPS unit are strongly recommended.
The Gardner Mountain Foot and Horse Trail is open to hikers and horseback riders. The trail ambles through a mountain meadow and then follows a ridgeline overlooking the Gardner Mountain WSA. There is no marked or maintained route between the Gardner Mountain Foot and Horse Trail and the Gardner Mountain WSA. Visitors to the WSA must travel cross-country off of a designated trail through steep topography. Please respect private property boundary signs and practice Leave No Trace!
The trail is accessed via WY-191/Mayoworth-Slip Road north of Kaycee. Take WY-191 west from Kaycee to the community of Mayoworth. Fork left onto Slip Road and continue 6.7 miles up a series of switchbacks. Turn left and head downhill to the parking area.
Allowable Uses & Restrictions:
Motorized travel is expressly prohibited. Additionally, the WSA is closed to mineral entry, including gold panning. Hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, camping and other non-motorized recreational activities are permitted within the Gardner Mountain WSA. If you have questions related to a specific activity, please contact the Buffalo Field Office at 307-684-1100.
Primitive & Unconfined Recreation:
The Gardner Mountain WSA offers outstanding opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation in the forms of hiking, fishing, hunting and sightseeing. Steep canyon walls with a limited number of access points and steep mountainous terrain are natural barriers that affect human movement within the WSA and enhance the primitive character.
The Gardner Mountain WSA encompasses 6,423 acres of public land with no state or private inholdings. The area is generally rugged terrain of the southern Big Horn Mountains dominated by pine, scattered mountain mahogany and meadows. The two principle drainages are deep, steep-walled canyons. Beartrap Creek and the North Fork of the Red Fork of the Powder River flow through the area. Part of the Dull Knife Battlefield, a National Historic Site, extends into the southern part of the area.
The Gardner Mountain WSA is predominantly natural. The area is dissected by two major picturesque canyons that average about 400 feet in depth. The WSA varies in elevation from 5,700 to 7,800 feet. The eastern portion of the WSA is characterized by steep forested terrain with both small and large grassy meadows. The western portion consists almost entirely of open, gently sloping grassy parks.
Bald eagles and peregrine falcons, both classified as endangered species, migrate through the area; however, none are known to nest in the area.
There are few visible human imprints. Those existing are associated with ongoing range management activities. Fences located in the western portion of the WSA are generally more visible because of the number of open parks, whereas those on the eastern portion are located in timber and mountainous terrain.
Constructed reservoirs are small and are concentrated in the southern portion of the unit. The reservoirs appear to have been in place for many years and blend well into the natural setting. Small access routes serve each reservoir but do not adversely affect the natural character of the landscape.
Overall this WSA offers opportunities for solitude because it has rugged terrain, forested areas and several canyons. Although the intensive inventory identifies solitude as an outstanding characteristic of this area, only the canyons provide an outstanding opportunity.
Approximately 1,000 acres offer little opportunity to avoid the sights and sounds of others in the WSA. The western portion of the WSA, except for the canyons, generally lacks the varied topography and vegetative screening necessary for experiencing solitude. The southern portion is characterized by steep rocky terrain with a light covering of juniper and grass. Neither the western nor the southern part is considered to offer outstanding opportunities for experiencing solitude.
Both the Red Fork of the Powder River and Beartrap Creek are considered “important trout waters-fisheries of regional importance” by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD).
Portions of Dull Knife Battlefield, a national historic site, extend into the southern boundary of the WSA. The historic site is significant to Wyoming history and early Indian-settler battles.